As South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from state grounds, white supremacist groups protested this move as dismissive of the state’s cultural heritage and pride. Others would argue that the flag is a symbol of oppression and racism that divides the country. One factor in the flags removal would be the actions of Dylann Roof, an unapologetic white supremacist who recently went to a primarily black church in Downtown Charleston, South Carolina and gunned down nine people, an attack that he stated was due to them being black. Online, he would post pictures of himself waving the Confederate flag.
On the 18th of July, huge clashes erupted in the state capital of Columbia’s statehouse between modern members of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) a white supremacist movement originating in 1871, and the New Black Panthers, a black nationalist party based on the Black Panthers from the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. According to Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, one man, preferring to remain unnamed, stated that “a white revolution is the only solution.” First Amendment rights of free speech make what the KKK are doing perfectly legal, despite the fact that it could easily be classified as hate speech.
According to Mia de Graaf of the Daily Mail 300 members of the KKK attended this protest, against a group of 400 New Black Panthers, all of whom were being looked on by numerous bystanders who sided with neither organization. According to Alan Fisher, numerous fights broke out, as an older woman supporting the flying of the Confederate flag walked away with a bloody nose, “a KKK supporter was hit with a brick,” and Confederate flags were stolen and ripped apart. Many KKK supporters flashed Nazi salutes. Police and State Troopers managed to keep things from getting worse, but First Amendment Rights dictated that they allow all parties to express their views.
The display of such hatred only supports the conclusion that racism in the United States still exists and is extremely prevalent. The fact that people are so proud to display their sentiments in such a blatant and open manner means that there is still much to be done in the United States. Education on equality of all races needs to be emphasized in order to prevent such actions. These protests could have easily become extremely violent. It also shows a downside of the First Amendment: Without limitations on Freedom of Expression to prevent hate speech, such thought will continue to undermine the move towards greater equality. Even one person’s supporting of such ideology will galvanize others to partake in such thought. Further education is the only possible solution to ending this violent, self-destructive train of thought.
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